Yes, we are lions at home; the spin-kings of world cricket. We encourage our bowlers to bowl the way they want, endorse the flair of our world-class batsman. We might not hold the mantle of number 1 in Test Cricket right now, but I cannot concede anyone else does either. Till they beat this Indian team at home in a series or even come close to doing so, let alone dominate them on spin-friendly wickets, how can anyone be No.1?
To all those doomsayers of Indian cricket, the critics who write India off when they tour England, South Africa or even Australia, I want to ask a question: how many times has a team defeated India at home in say the last 20 years? You have to go back to 2004-05, when India was outdone by Australia in the Border-Gavaskar trophy by 2-1, and to 1999-00 before that, when South Africa punished India 2-0. India has only lost 2 test series at home since the onset of the 90s. To put things into perspective: Australia have lost 3, South Africa 4, and England some 10 for the same period.
These stats don’t show India is No.1, for Australia’s overall win % is the greatest of all teams for the said period. However, till a team dominates or consistently wins at home and on foreign / un-friendly territory, they cannot be considered the best, irrespective of statistics, period. Leadership, along with individual brilliance, is imperative to be consistent and hold your own at the top for long periods of time. Steve Waugh’s Australia of the 2000s and Clive Llyod’s West Indies of the 70s and 80s are the only teams that may be lauded as the No.1 team of their respective eras with that yardstick.
Matters are now much more complex with the addition of T-20 to world cricket. The hunt for No.1 is still on and may well be on for decades to come, but what we have at home is a Captain Unanimous in Dhoni, old stalwarts in Tendulkar, Sehwag and Yuvraj, new spin-maestros in Ojha and Ashwin, dependable young-blood in Kohli, Raina and Pujara and the hope of a billion hearts. Dare I say – the future looks bright!